More deaths than births in UK for first time in nearly 50 years

More deaths than births took place in the UK last year for the first time in nearly half a century, figures suggest.

A total of 689,629 deaths were registered in 2020, while 683,191 live births were recorded.

This means that natural change in the UK – the difference between births and deaths – was a negative figure of 6,438.

Births and deaths in the UK
(PA Graphics)

It is the first time deaths have exceeded births since 1976, according to provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It is also only the second time this has happened since the start of the 20th century.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant that more deaths were registered in the UK in 2020 than in any year since the First World War, the ONS said.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

This increase in deaths, combined with decreasing numbers of births, caused the rate of natural change to be negative.

But it does not mean the total population size of the UK declined in 2020, as migration may have led to an overall growth in numbers, thanks to more people moving into the country than leaving it, the ONS said.

The latest ONS estimate for the size of the UK population is 67.1 million as of mid-2020, up by 284,000 or 0.4% from 66.8 million in mid-2019.